UNHCR welcomes Thai Cabinet approval of national screening mechanism

News and Press Release
Originally published

BANGKOK, 26 DECEMBER 2019: In a development welcomed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Thai Cabinet approved on 24 December 2019 the establishment of a screening mechanism to distinguish people who need international protection from economic migrants. This follows the Cabinet’s January 2017 approval of a proposal to finalise and implement such a mechanism.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have specific asylum legislation. Consequently, refugees and asylum-seekers who do not otherwise have a legal right to stay in Thailand are treated as illegal migrants.

After entering into force, it is hoped that the screening mechanism will regularise the stay of persons in need of international protection in Thailand and lend predictability to the asylum space.

“Today’s approval represents the commitment of the Royal Thai Government (RTG) to take concrete steps towards ensuring the protection space for refugees and asylum-seekers on its territory,” said Mr. Giuseppe De Vincentiis, UNHCR’s Representative in Thailand.

“It will be important that the screening mechanism is implemented in line with international standards and general asylum principles and UNHCR stands ready to support the RTG in this regard.”

The approval by the Cabinet follows a pledge made by the RTG to strengthen the capacity and skills of its officers in order to effectively implement the screening mechanism, during the first-ever Global Refugee Forum convened by UNHCR in Geneva earlier this month.

The Global Refugee Forum was held one year following affirmation of the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation.

The approval is also a concrete outcome of the pledge made by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha at the September 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees at the United Nations in New York to establish such a mechanism.


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